Previewing Yankees Interleague Matchups
Interleague play is something that is very controversial among fans. I personally do not have a problem with it. In fact it is one of my favorite times of the year. Baseball is a long season and it gets kind of old at times playing the same teams all the time. I do not see why people have an issue with it.It is good to spice things up. In every other sport teams play teams from the other leagues all the time. Just because there is one different rule between the AL and NL they should not play each other a few times a year? I find that ridiculous. The one complaint I have about it is the unbalanced scheduling. Why do the Yankees play the Braves in two series this year when they are not our natural rival? That means one less different team we get to play so I hate that. Also, why do the Yankees play the Reds when all the other NL teams they play are from the NL East? Not to mention that they played the Reds last year. Every divison should play each other one year and have it rotate like the NFL does it, Like for example have the AL East play the NL East, the AL Central play the NL Central, and the AL West play the NL West and just rotate it every year along with playing your natural rival for two series. That would make the scheduling much fair and balanced. Here is a preview of each team the Yankees will see in interleague in 2012.
The Braves are lead by their dominant pitching staff. Their combination of starters and relievers are among the best in MLB. However, the top of their rotation does have durability concerns. Tim Hudson has had injury issues in the past, but the last two years he has been healthy and outstanding. He went 16-10 with, a 3.22 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP last season and was 4th in the Cy Young voting in 2010. Jair Jurjens had a stellar 1st half, but got hurt and pitcher poorly in the 2nd half as he recorded only 1 win after the all- star break. Tommy Hanson is one of the best young pitchers in MLB, but got hurt last year. He did have a great 9.8 K/9 in the 130 innings he did pitch last year. Brandon Beachy is one of the most underrated young pitchers in MLB. Beachy was 7-3, with a 3.68 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP and a stellar 10.7 K/9 in 25 starts last season. Their bullpen features Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters, both of whom reach the upper 90’s in their fastballs and were dominant last season. Their offense is led by Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Michael Bourn, and Freddie Freeman. They can really use a big year by Jason Heyward.
The Mets cut $50 million in payroll this offseason and are the worst team the Yankees will play in interleague play. They have a brutal team up the middle of the diamond. What I mean by that they are quite awful at catcher, 2nd base, shortstop, and centerfield. Daniel Murphy is a good hitter, but is a butcher in the field at 2nd base, Ruben Tejada is very young at shortstop, Andres Torres is a big downgrade from Angel Pagan in centerfield, and Josh Thole is a fringe starting caliber catcher. They will need big production from David Wright, Jason Bay, and Ike Davis to lead the offense. Their starting pitching is relying on Johan Santana to return to ace form coming off major shoulder surgery They will also need Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese to bounce back from bad seasons last year. Their bullpen is no better as their closer may a pitcher who is known more for throwing a chair into the stands than his pitching in Frank Francisco.
With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the division the Reds may be the favorites in the NL Central. The Reds have a solid offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips. Votto and Bruce are two of the best sluggers in MLB respectively. Votto had a down year compared to his MVP winning year in 2010, but was still solid hitting .309, with 29 HR’s, 103 RBI, and a. 947 OPS. Bruce hit .256, with 32 HR’s, 97 RBI, and an .814 OPS at only age 24. The Reds will be working in two of the top prospects in their system in Zack Cozart at shortstop and Devin Mesorasco at catcher. Their rotation is also solid led by Johnny Cueto and newly acquired Mat Latos. Cueto is not a big strikeout buy but had a 2.31 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Latos will have to adjust to his new ballpark coming from a pitchers paradise in San Diego. It will be interesting to see how flamethrower Aroldis Chapman will adjust to the rotation. Newly acquired Ryan Madson will close out games for the Reds.
The Nationals should be one of the most improved teams in MLB in 2012. Their rotations is great 1 through 5 featuring phenom Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Edwin Jackson, and John Lannan, Lannan, the number 5 starter, had a 3.70 ERA last season so they are extremely deep. Strasburg has the best stuff in MLB with a fastball that reaches 100MPH and a devastating curve. They should finally fully unleash him this season. Gonzalez needs to walk less batters, but has really good stuff and should be even better going over to the NL. Zimmerman and Jackson are a really good tandem at the 3 and 4 spots as well. Their offense is led by Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, and Jayson Werth. They will need Werth to have a big bounce back year. Their bullpen is also very solid featuring Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Brad Lidge.